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Using Mentor Texts to Teach Nonfiction

October 2, 2016 1 Comment

I’m thrilled to share with you one of my favorite children’s author / illustrator: Gail Gibbons. Today we are going to examine nonfiction text features through her book titled The Pumpkin Book.

The Pumpkin Book

Identifying Nonfiction Text Features

Gail Gibbons is a prolific author of informational texts for elementary readers. She is a master at weaving text and nonfiction elements with detailed illustrations and diagrams. That is why Gail Gibbons’ books are perfect to use as mentor texts for informational reading and writing. Since we are entering the season of autumn, I chose her nonfiction book about pumpkins.


Lesson Introduction
When using a mentor text, I like to display the illustrations using my document camera so everyone can get a good look at the pictures. You will want to introduce the author Gail Gibbons and explain that she writes and illustrates informational books. The author spends a great deal of time researching her topic before she begins to write her book. Gail Gibbons has written over 130 books.  I like to have several copies of her books available in our classroom when we are featuring a specific author.
Working with the Text
Before I start reading, I tell them to keep an eye out for labels and diagrams. These are the two text features commonly found in Gibbons’ books. As I read the story aloud, I pause to have the students examine the illustrations and text features. Discuss what new information the labels provide to the readers. I also point out the layout of the text sections. Notice that there aren’t many sentences on a page. The author might have several illustrations on a single page, or one giant illustration.
Expository Writing  Gail Gibbons Style
Now it is the students’ turn to become experts in the fields of pumpkins and  squash (pun intended). Each student is provided with pages that will support the creation of their own informational book about pumpkins. As you can see, the children are adding labels while referring to the text.
There are lines for the students to add their own text.
Just like Gail Gibbons, the students are authors and illustrators. I’ve also included pages that can be customized however the student wishes.
  Gail Gibbons style pages pumpkin field page
To download your own copy to use with your students, click on the picture below.

Create Your Own PUMPKINS cover

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Alison Monk

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1 Comment

  • Pumpkin Themed Activities and Resources October 3, 2016 at 8:35 PM

    […] Visit my blog post to see how I use it in my class. Write Your Own Informational Book […]

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    Welcome! I'm Alison Monk, a primary teacher with a passion for creating educational materials that engage kids and teachers love! I hope this blog encourages and inspires you. I'm so glad you are here! Read More

    About the Literacy Garden

    My name is Alison Monk and I love helping teachers like you be successful. My passion is to support you with effective tips and engaging resources. I love children's literature, Golden Retrievers, and coffee!

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